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Members include Keith Duffy (born on October 1, 1974), vocals; Stephen Gately (born on March 17, 1976), vocals; Mikey Graham (born on August 15, 1972), vocals; Ronan Keating (born on March 3, 1977), lead vocals; Shane Lynch (born on July 3, 1976), vocals; Richie Rock (left group, c. 1993), vocals; Mark Walton (left group, c. 1993), vocals. Addresses: Record company--Universal Records, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.umusic.com. Website--Boyzone Official Website: http://www.boyzone.co.uk.
Boyzone, Ireland's answer to the wave of singing, dancing boy pop groups of the 1990s, became the first Irish group to score four number-one hits on the British charts. Each of their albums, Said and Done, A Different Beat, and Where We Belong, debuted at the top of the British charts, a feat equaled only by the Beatles and Oasis. They also released eleven top-five singles, sang backup on Irish rock group U2's single "Sweetest Thing," and appeared in the video. Though the group found success in its native Ireland, as well as England, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America, they have yet to conquer North America.
Boyzone was formed in 1993 when theatrical manager Louis Walsh advertised for young male singers and dancers in a Dublin newspaper, hoping to form an Irish group like 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, or Britain's Take That. More than 300 young men tried out before Walsh selected Ronan Keating as lead vocalist, rounding out the group with Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Shane Lynch, Mark Walton, and Richie Rock. The group performed a slapped-together dance routine to the song "Burn Baby Burn" on the Irish Late Late Show just one day later. It was abysmal, according to critics. Mark Walton left the group soon after, and Richie Rock was kicked out for being unreliable; Mikey Graham was added to form the final lineup.
The group's first singles were covers of 1970s pop songs--numbers first performed when the boys were babies. Their first single, a remake of the Spinners' "Working My Way Back to You," made it to number three on the Irish charts, and their second, a cover of the Osmonds' "Love Me for a Reason," made it to number two. These two hits gained the group a raging, mostly preteen, female fan base even before the British release of their debut album, Said and Done, in 1995. (The album wasn't released in the United States until 2001.) Said and Done, which debuted at number one on the British charts, featured original songs by Ray Hedges of the group Take That, and three singles, "Key to My Life," "So Good," and "Love Me For a Reason," that made it into the top five on the British charts. The group remade "Father and Son" (the cover that won Keating the Boyzone audition), and it went to number three. The group's first major British tour had to be altered to accommodate both Graham, who'd fallen off a horse and hurt his back, and Lynch, who'd broken his ankle chasing a baseball.
Both Graham's and Duffy's girlfriends both had babies in 1996, prompting rumors that the group would split. Boyzone's sophomore album, A Different Beat, was released in the United Kingdom later that year and was every bit as successful as its debut. It entered the British charts at number one, and sold two million copies worldwide. This wave of success crashed for Keating in early 1998 when he lost his mother to breast cancer, followed by the deaths of his grandmother and a 16-year-old cousin. But after the single "All That I Need" hit number one on the British charts in April of 1998, Keating turned the tide and married Irish model Yvonne Connelly. Lynch and Duffy also married during this time. Gately announced he was gay, which alienated some of the group's fans, but he was met with resounding applause at a concert following the announcement. The group's third release, Where We Belong, came out in England in May of 1998 and was their third consecutive album to debut at number one on the British charts, a feat they shared with only the Beatles and Oasis.
The group's remake of Billy Ocean's hit "When the Going Gets Tough" for Comic Relief in 1998 became the charity's biggest-selling single ever. After becoming the leading boy band in Europe, Boyzone set its sights on America. They crossed the Atlantic and performed promotional concerts in New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Nashville in November of 1998. "When we began, we were the only five people to believe in us," Graham recalled in Rolling Stone online, "but we stuck to our guns and we worked hard and now everyone kind of takes their hats off to us. You can bet your bottom dollar that Boyzone will be the next biggest thing in the States." His optimism, unfortunately, was not rewarded.
Keating stood out as Boyzone's charismatic leader. He was born Ronan Patrick John Keating on March 3, 1977, in Dublin, Ireland, the last of four children of Gerry, a bar owner, and Marie Keating, a hairdresser. He was raised in a working-class household, and was just 14 when he auditioned the Cat Stevens song "Father and Son" for Louis Walsh. After six years in the group, Keating set out on his own. His first solo single, "When You Say Nothing at All," made it to number one on the British charts, followed by his second solo single, "Life Is a Rollercoaster," a few months later. He released Ronan in 2000 and Destination in 2002.
The other Boyzone members struck out on their own during the band's downtime, as well. Gately appeared as the voice of a rabbit in the animated television version of the novel Watership Down, and sang the show's theme song, a remake of Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes," which made it to the top ten. He also released a top-ten solo album, New Beginning, in 2000. Graham's solo single, "You're My Girl," was released the same week, but only made it to number 13 on the charts. A solo album, Meet Me Halfway, followed. Duffy and Lynch released a remake of lip-synching pop duo Milli Vanilli's "Girl You Know It's True." Duffy has also played guitar and percussion on several recordings by the Irish group the Corrs.
by Brenna Sanchez
Group formed by theatrical manager Louis Walsh in Dublin, Ireland, 1993; first singles, "Working My Way Back to You," and "Love Me for a Reason," made it into the top three on the Irish charts, c. 1994; released debut album Said and Done at number one on British charts, 1995; four singles, "Key to My Life," "So Good," "Love Me For a Reason," and "Father and Son," made it into the top five on the British charts, 1995; released A Different Beat into the top spot on British charts, 1996; released third number-one album in Britain, Where We Belong, 1998; performed a brief promotional tour of the United States, 1998.
- Selected discography
- Said and Done , Polygram, 1995.
- A Different Beat , Polydor, 1997.
- Where We Belong , Polygram, 1998.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 20, 1998.
- People, December 21, 1998.
- "Boyzone," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 28, 2002).
- "Boyzone," DotMusic.com, http://www.dotmusic.com/artists/Boyzone/ (September 11, 2002).
- "Boyzone," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/boyzone (August 28, 2002).
- "Keith Duffy," "Stephen Gately," "Mikey Graham," "Ronan Keating," and "Shane Lynch," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 11, 2002).
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